THERE’S no signage, no garden, and nothing from the busy Great Eastern Highway streetscape that screams ‘new restaurant’, yet when I caught up with Bert Lozey, the chef in charge of the new 150 East Bar and Restaurant, there were definite signs of walk-in trade.
The signage will arrive soon enough and gardeners are busy putting plants in pots out front of Assured Hospitality’s Ascot Quays Apartments – the home of one of Perth’s newest restaurants.
The early level of walk-in trade and the fact that, on its first night the restaurant had 80 people in, speaks of the demand for another quality eating establishment in the area.
Making sure the restaurant is a success, and has a wider audience than just the building’s residents, requires an independent set of decision makers and restaurant managers, according to Mr Lozey, who spent 11 years with Rendezvous Observation City Hotel.
“The approach you have to take is to run it as a free-standing entity, not just as a business unit, but also the way the thinking behind it goes,” Mr Lozey says.
“You need to have the creative people in making decisions rather than hotel managers.
“It needs to be branded separately. There is a stigma about being a hotel restaurant, I don’t know why it is.”
After 11 years working within a hotel hierarchy Mr Lozey chose to go it alone and opened up Bertini’s Restaurant in Fremantle.
He has since sold his share and says his current role – at the helm of a restaurant operation without significant administrative responsibilities – is his perfect job.
“I enjoy cooking and I am not keen on administration and looking after the front of house,” Mr Lozey says.
“I am quite happy in the kitchen. When you have your own business all of a sudden cooking is the smallest part. The other things, staff, emptying the till and ordering takes up your time.
“You are the first one in and the last one to leave.”
Mr Lozey’s experience has been utilised by Assured Hospitality Group, which engaged him to write and oversee the kitchen operations of its Margarets Beach Resort restaurant, Embiar, which was launched late last year.
As a veteran of Perth’s hospitality industry Mr Lozey has worked with some of Perth’s most notable chefs, including Chris Taylor. At one time he even had a little-known apprentice by the name of Stephen Scaffidi working for him.
Mr Scaffidi has since become one of Perth’s culinary kings, as the operator of Altos Bistro, while Chris Taylor moved on from Observation City to open Fraser’s Restaurant and is embarking on a second restaurant at Point Heathcote.
Commitment to the customer is something that, aside from cooking skills, Mr Lozey has learnt along the way.
“What you learn most when you own your own place is that the customer is the most important person, it is not the chef,” he says.
That is why Mr Lozey provides a glossary of terms with his menus. He knows that chefs often speak their own language, while customers just want to know what food is in a particular dish. It is a strategy he has employed since his days at Observation City.
“Quite a few people won’t ask what something is because they don’t want to look stupid,” Mr Lozey says. “A lot of people won’t order something because they don’t know what one of the ingredients is.”
As well as the ‘kitchen talk’ glossary of terms, be sure to take a close look at the paintings hanging in the foyer and restaurant at 150 East Bar and Restaurant. A self-taught artist whose flair with the brush approaches his expertise in the kitchen, Mr Lozey says they are some of his latest works.
150 East Bar and Restaurant officially opened last week and is open seven days a week from 6.30am.
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